29 Sep Farewell, Puck Daddy
I’ve been told that two of my greatest assets as a writer are my speed and my creativity, so naturally I’ve been staring at a blank screen for six hours and can’t think of a single clever way to announce that today is my last day at Yahoo Sports, after nine years as editor of the Puck Daddy blog.
This is a decision I made during the summer, and it’s been in the works for the last few weeks. I apologize for not being more upfront about it, but there were a lot of moving parts.
Simply put: I didn’t want to spend the next three years trying to recreate something that couldn’t be recreated. To try and maintain standards I set for myself, and for you, that couldn’t be maintained, given the changes in staff, resources and objectives after the sale to Verizon. This is very much my own hang-up, as I anticipate NHL coverage will continue to thrive on Yahoo. But it was an insurmountable one.
I know myself and how I work, and I’ve already seen how I reacted to the losses of Leahy and Cooper and Neale this year. It wasn’t healthy, and ultimately it was going to lead me in one of two directions: Overworking to overcompensate, which is my default setting, or into a cycle of complacency because we had built a machine that saw record traffic in 2017.
I didn’t fancy either option, because I also wanted new challenges professionally, and so I decided to leave. Which it turns out was the most difficult decision I’ve made in my career. But ultimately, I believe, the right one.
So to be clear: I wasn’t caught in (another) round of layoffs. I wasn’t fired for something I wrote, much to the chagrin of my new friends at Breitbart. It’s my decision to leave Puck Daddy before this season, and I thank my superiors for accepting it.
I know where my next career destination is. I can’t announce it quite yet, despite being extraordinarily excited about the opportunity. But you’ll be the first to know, officially, when it happens.
I’m sure you have a few questions, and perhaps these are among them:
What will happen to Puck Daddy?
From what I’ve been told, it’ll live on, which makes me very happy.
During those years when everyone who ever interviewed me would call me “the Puck Daddy,” I wanted nothing more than for it to be like playing The Doctor: I leave, and the blog regenerates, and someone else gets to be Puck Daddy. Hopefully they’re as good as David Tennant.
Managing editor Dan Toman, the talented Justin Cuthbert and Yahoo Canada have the helm this season. Ryan Lambert will still be bringing the hot fire five days a week. Don’t take my departure as a signal that Yahoo’s NHL coverage is waning. It’ll be different, but I’m thrilled to see where it goes from here.
Is this all happening because I never submitted that Jersey Foul?
Yes. If only I had seen your ‘CrosbySwallows 69’ Foul before the summer, none of this would be happening.
What will happen to the PUCK SOUP podcast?
Only good things. The audience is growing exponentially, and we’re ready to unleash some seriously cool things on an unsuspecting public on Monday. I’ve been assured that nothing changes with PUCK SOUP at my next landing spot.
What will happen to MAREK VS. WYSHYNSKI?
This one is a little murkier at the moment, but Marek and I are trying to figure out next steps. Suffice it to say, we want the show to continue and we’re checking out options. Hang tight.
What will happen to the Yahoo comments on Puck Daddy?
Anything short of them being bundled together like kindling and shot into the sun will be a disappointment.
I sent a farewell email to the Yahoo Sports staff last night, who are some of the most infinitely talented, dedicated and incredible people I’ve ever met in sports media. I marvel at how we’ve all managed to hang on during even the most throttling curves on the roller coaster of this company – through redesigns and regime changes and saying goodbye to old friends. Their work ethic is astonishing and inspiring.
Specifically, I’ll miss watching the brisk genius of Dan Wetzel on assignment; the cynical beauty of Jeff Passan’s prose; how bloggers like Mike Oz and Dan Devine bring the kind of ingenuity to their sports that I’ve hoped to bring over the years; and the dogged reporting of Eric Adelson.
I covered four Olympics with Yahoo. I’ll cherish those experiences always, not only for the stories I experienced but also for the camaraderie of the crew.
(During the last nine years, I also took several pies to the face during an LA Kings playoff game, got a referee suspended for doing tequila shots with me a New York bar and helped get John Scott voted in as an All-Star Game captain. This job was weird.)
I owe a debt of gratitude to the editors (past and present) that gave me the space and support to allow Puck Daddy to thrive: Jamie Mottram and Dave Morgan, who hired me from a weekly newspaper in 2008; Mark Pesavento, Matt Ryan, Kevin Kaduk, Jay Busbee, Joe Lago, Al Toby, Johnny Ludden, Marcus Vanderberg, Melissa Geisler and Bob Condor for their work on the U.S. side; and Steve MacAllister, Sam McCaig, Sunaya Sapurji and Dan Toman on the Canadian side. There are countless others. I thank you all.
(Especially you, O.G. Yahoo blog crew. I still say “Clown’s Mouth” was an infinitely better name for the golf blog than “Devil Ball.”)
But the biggest debt, of course, is to the people who contributed their genius to Puck Daddy on the page and behind the scenes.
Here’s to Sean Leahy, the single greatest blogger I know; Ryan Lambert, Jen Neale, Josh Cooper, Harrison Mooney, Justin Bourne, Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Dmitry Chesnokov, Nick Cotsonika, Ross McKeon, “The Player” and everyone else who ever had a byline on the site, be it as a staff writer or as a guest contributor. I may have given some guidance and made an edit or two, but it’s your passion and insight that fueled the site’s success. I never took that for granted. I hope others didn’t either (even if they thought I ghostwrote everything on Puck Daddy).
I wasn’t always an easy boss. Thanks for putting up with my nonsense.
I also want to thank my family and friends for their grace during all those times I had to bail on something important to find a suitable Wi-Fi signal and blog the signing of a third-line center. I promise you it meant something, to someone.
It’s possible I’ve written “I” in this post already more than I did in nine years at Puck Daddy. I always used “we” when writing first-person, which was a gimmick I stole from my old editor at Deadspin, Will Leitch.
I used it because I was fond of the idea that Puck Daddy wasn’t my blog.
It was ours.
When I came to Yahoo, I had three basic aims: To create a blog that balanced humor with journalism, one that could entertain and inform; to create a blog that offered unique perspectives and boosted the volume of writers that offered them; and to make people care about hockey who had yet to let the light of hockey into their hearts.
Much to my surprise, we also created a community of fans who dug what we did, and wanted to be a part of it.
So I thank you for these nine years of unfathomable success. For every day you went to the blog, and for every friend you told about it. For every post that started a bigger conversation in other parts of the web. For every Jersey Foul or goofy Photoshop contest entry you sent in. For every Twitter follow or Facebook ‘like’ or video view that we earned. For every chat we did, or every meet-up we held on the road. For supporting three podcasts – RIP “Puck Daddy Radio” and shout out to Rob Pizzo – and two books I was blessed to create. For supporting every TV appearance and radio hit. For giving us incredible traffic and other metrics, which knocked down walls and got hockey more attention at Yahoo Sports than I ever dreamed it would. For celebrating our accomplishments, and for calling us on our bullshit.
What I’m most proud of during my time at Puck Daddy is sharing that wealth. We made a calculated effort to include as many other voices as we could in the conversation, whether it was by quoting them in stories or linking to them in Puck Headlines or having them participate in our projects. We attempted to share our platform with hockey fans of different genders, races and sexual preferences than the accepted NHL norms so their voices could be elevated on issues that weren’t always popular, but vital. The idea was that a passionate fan could provide as much insight and analysis as that jaded schlub in the press box; and while we endured several years of pushback from the schlubs, some of whom still don’t talk to me, ultimately that theory was proven right.
I’m also proud that, right through the end, we tried to do all of this the right way. To not be first, but be best on a story. To not provide a lazy click-bait take, but a nuanced one. To always provide a fresh angle. To be forthcoming with our biases, and to always be able to defend what we write, even if you labeled it indefensible.
So I’ll end this rambling eulogy — hey, I finally wrote one! — with a pledge: That I’ll always attempt to remain true to these ideals as a writer, and the ideals behind Puck Daddy, wherever these adventures takes me next. (And I hope you’ll join me on them.)
But for now, let’s all take a moment to remember everything we accomplished together in the last nine years.
Farwell, Puck Daddy.